The Mercury News
Warriors-Mavericks could have major playoff implications
The Warriors' game against the Dallas Mavericks tonight will have a direct impact on the Western Conference playoff seedings.
Golden State sits in the No. 6 seed following a rare road win against the Houston Rockets on Monday. But the Warriors don't hold that spot by much. Just a half-game separates the seventh-seeded Mavericks (36-36) and Warriors (37-36), and they'll go head-to-head tonight to determine the season tiebreaker.
Ultimately, whichever team falls into the seventh seed will participate in the four-team play-in tournament. The seventh seed plays one game against the eighth seed. The winner of that game moves on to the first round of the playoffs as the seventh seed. The loser of that game plays the winner of a game between the ninth and 10th seeds for the eighth seed.
“As a competitor, you relish in the moments of the most important games,” Klay Thompson said after the Warriors' win at Houston. “We're coming down to the home stretch and every game is so vital for playoff stakes, and it's exciting times. Postseason, there's nothing like it and these last (nine) games will be a great warmup for the most competitive basketball out there.”
The Warriors and Mavericks have split their two head-to-head matchups this season. The Warriors beat a Luke Doncic-less Mavs team at home in February and the Mavs snuck away with a three-point win in Dallas in November.
Injuries could play a major part in tonight's game. Doncic and Kyrie Irving — who has yet to face the Warriors as a Maverick — are listed as questionable on the injury report as of Tuesday afternoon. Doncic has been sidelined since March 8 with a left thigh strain. Irving re-aggravated a toe injury in a collision with Dillon Brooks during the Mavericks' loss to Memphis on Monday and was spotted in a walking boot after the game.
But if both play, the Warriors have their hands full.
“We haven't seen them with Kyrie, but they play a very similar style that they did before the trade,” Steph Curry said at Warriors practice on Tuesday. “But they have two dynamic guards that can play-make. They slow it down, but they spread the floor and put the ball in those two guys hands to try to create and have spacing around.
“We understand the defensive approach we need to have. If we can get stops, we can run in transition. but where we get in trouble with them is when we foul too much — it's been the story of the season, but especially with them.”
The Warriors will be without Andrew Wiggins for a 17th straight game as he tends to a family matter. Gary Payton II will also be sidelined again with a core injury.
Andre Iguodala underwent wrist surgery Monday and the team announced he'll be reevaluated in four weeks, putting his season in jeopardy.
Draymond Green (sore right wrist) and Kevon Looney (lower back) are listed as probable to play, per the injury report. Looney has been on the injury report the last two games but has played.
Green said after Monday's game his wrists and hands are “(Messed) up.”
Both bigs will likely warm up with the intention of playing.
Curry exited Monday's game after a collision with Jordan Poole, who fell on his previously-injured right leg. Curry said he was “fine” after Monday's game and returned to the game looking strong, scoring 11 points in the fourth quarter. He is not listed on the injury report as of Tuesday evening.
Another obstacle for the Warriors is trying to figure out how to cure their incompetence on the road. Their win against Houston was just their eighth on the road this season. Tonight's game against Dallas will cap a five-game road trip — their last big trip — in which they lost to the Clippers, Hawks and Grizzlies.
They will have three more road games after tonight's game in Dallas: A one-game trip to Denver to play the Nuggets on April 2 and games in Sacramento and Portland to finish off the regular season.